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  • Born

    21 November 1852

  • Born In

    Vila-real, Castellón, Comunidad Valenciana, Spain

  • Died

    15 December 1909 (aged 57)

Francisco Tárrega (Francisto Tarrega y Eixea) (1852-11-21 - 1909-12-15) was a Spanish composer and guitarist.

Born in Villarreal, Spain, he fell into an irrigation channel when he was young, which rendered him nearly blind. Partially due to this accident, the family moved to Castellon and enrolled him in music classes. Both his first music teachers, Eugeni Ruiz and Manuel Gonzalez, were blind. In 1862, guitarist Julián Arcas heard the young prodigy and encouraged him to journey to Barcelona, a hub for musicians. However, Tarrega was soon brought back by his father. ,

He entered the Madrid Conservatory in 1874, under the sponsorship of a wealthy merchant named Antonio Canesa, where he studied composition under Emilio Arrieta. By the end of the 1870s, he was teaching the guitar (Emilio Pujol and Miguel Llobet were pupils of his) and giving regular concerts. A virtuoso on his instrument, he was known as the "Sarasate of the guitar". He later settled in Barcelona, and died there in 1909.

As well as his original works for the guitar, which include Recuerdos de la Alhambra, Capricho Árabe and Danza Mora, he arranged pieces by others for the instrument, including works by Ludwig van Beethoven, Frédéric Chopin and Felix Mendelssohn. As with several of his Spanish contemporaries, such as his friend Isaac Albéniz, he had an interest in combining the prevailing Romantic trend in classical music with Spanish folk elements, and transcribed several of Albeniz's piano pieces (notably the fiery Asturias (Leyenda)) for guitar. The noted contemporary guitarist and composer Angelo Gilardino has written that Tárrega's 9 Preludios are "… the deepest musical thought of Tárrega in the most concentrated form."

Tárrega is considered to have laid the foundations for 20th-century classical guitar and for increased interest in the guitar as a recital instrument. The great Andrés Segovia used much of Tarrega's work on technique and many of his compositions to take the classical guitar into concert halls of Europe. He is also the composer of what has been claimed to be "probably the world's most heard tune": the Nokia ringtone Nokia tune or simply Nokia, also used in their advertising spots, is based on Tárrega's Gran Vals. His music also inspired Mike Oldfield, whose Etude (The Killing Fields) is based on Tárrega's piece for solo classical guitar Recuerdos de la Alhambra (Memories of the Alhambra).

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